"It channels the language of hip-hop more than it does the language of metal" - Machine Head open up about changing direction on new album Catharsis...
Over the course of their 27-year career, Bay Area thrash titans Machine Head have been through an awful lot. Periods of great success, sold out arenas and festival headlining slots have been countered with bitter record label disputes and disappointing sales. Wherever they've been, it's been an interesting ride.
Now nine albums deep, their mission is keeping themselves and their legions of fans interested in what they do next, and it's a successful mission on new album Catharsis.
Their new LP was recorded with All Shall Perish Zack Ohren and sees the band pushing melody to the centre, but still maintaining the same crushing heaviness that has characterised their sound.
As the album comes to shelves, we sat down with Machine Head mainman Robb Flynn to talk about making it...
When did you start work on Catharsis?
"We started the writing process back in September 2016."
How did you want this album to move on from what you did on Bloodstone and Diamonds?
"I think that when you start writing, you never really know where an album will go. It’s like a journey and you’ve just gotta let the journey unfold. If you try and force a direction, it almost inevitably forces back, so in my experience, you just let the songs be, live with them for a month, and if you still like it a month later… you know you’re on to something."
You made the album with Zack Ohren, why did you settle on him and what did he give you as a producer?
"I worked with Zack a few years ago and he just made it easy. Super organized, mellow, funny. He records all these brutal tech-death-metal bands but plays drums in a pop band, so he has a large musical palette."
"Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"I'd say ‘Heavy Lies The Crown’ probably took the longest. It’s the symphonic epic of the album and had A LOT going on."
And which came together most quickly?
"‘Bastards’, ‘Triple Beam’, ‘Volatile’, and ‘Kaleidoscope’ were all written very quickly. I wrote the lyrics to ‘Volatile’ on the day of the Charlottesville murders and recorded them about 20 minutes after writing them."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme tying the songs together?
"The song ‘Bastards’ has ties through quite a few songs on the album. Lyrically, the album’s all over the place, but it’s dark, ugly, and gritty at times. At other times, it’s hopeful and even has a “let’s get fucked up” song! It channels the language of hip-hop more than it does the language of metal."
When did you settle on the title of Catharsis? Were there any titles in contention?
"About halfway through the writing process. There were other titles, but I can’t remember them now."
What are your plans to take the album out live?
"We hit the road in the US on Jan 26th, and usually, tour about 20 months per album, so we are absolutely coming to a town near you! The UK dates are in May. We hope to see you there!"